After over 33 years of distinguished service to the City and community of Santa Ana and the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), the last six years as Chief of Police, Chief David Valentin has announced he will retire in 2023.
Chief Valentin is the 21ST Chief of Police in the City’s 154-year history and the 1ST Chief that was born and raised in the City of Santa Ana. Chief Valentin is credited with significant accomplishments throughout his career; graduating from the FBI National Academy, California Command College, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program; inducted into both the Santa Ana College and California League of Community Colleges Hall of Fame for substantive community investment, and positive legacy accomplishments. Chief Valentin also served as the Chief of Police for the Santa Ana Unified School District for nearly five years; and on the Board of Directors for both the Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club (a club he once attended growing up in central Santa Ana) and the Santa Ana College Foundation; currently serving as Vice President.
In 2017, Chief Valentin inherited a Department with low morale, a police officer vacancy rate of nearly 20%, a lack of transparency, community relations investment and questions about the lack of proactive traditional policing efforts to keep community members safe. Under Chief Valentin’s leadership, an overarching 5 Year Strategic Plan was established with direct community input, co-facilitated in collaboration with the Orange County Human Relations Commission. This Strategic Plan served as the blueprint for Chief Valentin’s administration, resulting in the following: full authorized police officer staffing was achieved while at the same time elevating the standards of hiring, increased transparency in all areas of operations, reprioritized the Department on core field services, lowering response times to emergency calls for service by -29%; re-established Community Based Policing as a way of doing business across the Department (first implemented by the late Policing Pioneer SAPD Chief Ray Davis in the 1970’s); implemented the first in the Country successful Family Justice Center, co-located within the Department; implemented a state of the art regional De-Escalation Training Center, unveiling October 2023, and led a dramatic decrease in overall officer involved shootings and use of force incidents. Concurrently, Chief Valentin is also credited with a measured successful focus on Traditional Policing, centered on defensible enforcement strategies to proactively address violent crime, including removing guns off the streets and community quality of life issues; all while successfully leading thru an unprecedented global pandemic.
Investments in generating and sustaining community trust were significant accomplishments under Chief Valentin’s leadership, where he proactively took on a public voice to police accountability, constitutional policing, sensible reforms and ensuring focus on servant leadership. Chief Valentin’s transformational leadership and steadfast guidance is credited with re-establishing the SAPD as a nationally leading premier police organization once again.
Chief Valentin also served as Co-Chair of the National Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, California Police Chiefs Association Legislative Committee, International Association of Chiefs of Police Victim Services Committee, Immediate Past President of the Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association and Executive Board Member of the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (LA HIDTA). Chief Valentin invested in legislative advocacy at the State Capitol in support of both public safety and higher public education initiatives; and has also been called upon to partner and contribute to industry research with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a leading national policing think tank, on a variety of policing practices and initiatives. Most recently Chief Valentin was asked to contribute on a panel of Chiefs of Police from across the country discussing best practices regarding critical use of force incident debriefings, duty to intervene, render aid and mandatory reporting. Chief Valentin will retire as the most senior Police Chief in Orange County, with over 11 years of service as Chief, and the most senior officer currently at the SAPD.
Chief Valentin has a passion for mentoring, talent development and consulting in leadership, strategic and organizational development, executive coaching, marketing, branding and community investment. With a lifelong love and passion for Santa Ana, and serving as a strategic advisor in various industries, Chief Valentin will continue his advocacy work with several professional organizations and projects in retirement.
“I have been fortunate and blessed in committing my life’s career work in the City I love! Coming from a space where I could have easily been killed on these very streets or have been sent to prison, like several young men I grew up with, to humbly and proudly serving as a Santa Ana Police Officer and then rising to serve as the first Police Chief from Santa Ana, is truly surreal. It has been an absolute honor and I owe my family a debt of lifetime gratitude for their unconditional love and fierce support. Santa Ana is a special place with many good people. SAPD has exceptional internal leadership and a command succession plan in place to carry on the good legacy work of keeping our community and our workforce safe. I will always serve as an advocate and champion for all the good people of Santa Ana and the great SAPD,” said Chief David Valentin.